Random scribblings on National Day
August 9, 2012, 3:59 pm
Filed under: By Rachel Zeng, Singapore

This year marks my 5th year back in Singapore.

Discontentment with the lack of freedom of speech and the thirst to learn beyond our shores were among the reasons why I packed my bags and took a teaching job in Shanghai. It was one of the greatest decisions I have made in my life because it opened my eyes to many new things and global issues and had led me to many adventures. I ended up in Belfast for three months before I finally came home. It wasn’t an easy decision to make but after my grandmother’s sudden demise in 2007 which had greatly depressed me, I thought I’d better come home and spend more time with my family as well as people I have known all my life.

In the past 5 years, I have met so many new people, done new things and made new discoveries about Singapore’s past. It has been quite an interesting journey of ups and downs, compared to the 22 frustrating years of being here before I took a break and lived abroad for 2 years. In many ways, I am glad to be back and being involved in pushing for more human rights in Singapore has contributed largely to that. The thing that really frustrates me is the false notion that one has to support the government before one can claim her/himself a patriot, that exists among many people here. I have also been asked to leave, since I do not like what the government is doing to this country.

Indeed I have no love for the PAP because they did nothing to earn it but I care about how people are being treated. As long as there is no equality between women and men, between the poor and the rich, among racial groups etc, people like me will continue to speak up, for how can a home be called a home if members of the home do not contribute to making it a better one? Singapore is my home, not a hotel and I intend to continue advocating and pushing for better rights.

Singapore is 47 this year, and will be 50 in 3 years’ time. I hope that when we get to that point, we will have a more progressive and caring government/ society that will 1) recognise all single mothers’ entitlement to government subsidies and childcare leave regardless of their marital status; 2) recognise the equal care giving roles of both parents by passing a bill to allow paternity leave; 3) abolish conscription and professionalise the army; 4) recognise the important roles early childhood educators play in society instead of perceiving the role of childcare centres mainly as a way to relief working parents; 5) establish minimum wage that is pegged to the standard of living in Singapore for ALL workers regardless of nationality; 6) acknowledge the need for greater human rights and abolish acts such as the Internal Security Act (along with a COI on Operation Coldstore and Spectrum) and 377A; 7) accept people with disabilities into the mainstream, with equal opportunities to education, work and pay; 8) recognise the need for land preservation and to protect areas of rich heritage and natural biodiversity (e.g, Bukit Brown); 9) abolish the death penalty and caning as a punishment; and last but not least 10) improve prison conditions and make it a place for rehabilitation rather than a place to dehumanize criminals.

That’s all for today. Happy National Day! 😉


10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

so what if you have return for 5 years! you have nothing to contribute except just talking nonsense all these whiles!

Comment by spg

You are entitled to your view, but here is mine:

Everyone has a contribution towards society be it in their opinions, work, personalities or other actions that may contribute towards changes in things etc. I am not living on others, and even if I do not contribute towards society with my ‘nonsense’, at least I contribute towards my family. 🙂 Have a nice day.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

troll is quick to comment here

anyway have a good one rachel

Comment by iamzal

Thanks Zal, you too! 😉

Comment by rachelabsinthe

You have a lot meh?name one or two lah,but not those like putting on flags at the block of flats,carrying umbrella during MP walkabout and telling the illiterate elderly lies that the goody pack they received is from their MP Just in case you are preoccupied learning sewing and elastic band for underwear,Ms zeng is in the Team that fought against the mandatory death penalty
“for the poor “

Comment by ah por

1. As for caning,I understand it hurts even the harden hardcore criminals.It is a deterrent as the scar is a reminder.Inhumane as it seems,but many “big brother” shudders as they hear the “Splish” sounds that split their buttocks.The pain is so intense that the legs shiver and becomes jelly.All these while they are not suppose to utter a sound !
2.To accept people with disabilities into the mainstream, with equal opportunities to education, work and pay it can be done quite easily.I remembered many years ago,many with disabilities were train as call center agents.This is an industry which suits them best,if the gahment is willing to provide assistance.Paying s-pass Ft for the same job scope is suspicious as the local agents understand the local culture better,harder driven and maybe willingly to accept a slightly lower pay.
3.improve prison conditions and make it a place for rehabilitation rather than a place to dehumanize criminals.
This one I think you got too carried away ! I don’t know what to say !

Comment by saysay

Regarding (3) – Prison should be a place to rehabilitate criminals back into society, for the well being of the society. A prison cell, with floor many times rougher than the road, where women prisoners (because the account was given to me by a women) are not allowed to bring out their thin sheets til it is time to do so, where they are pretty much ignored, where they wear thin clothings, where the medical cell’s beds have no mattresses… that is dehumanising. People make mistakes, and yes doing time in prison is their punishment. But calling for conditions to be more humane, calling for it to be a rehabilitative environment isn’t asking for too much really. You don’t correct a problem with cold and problematic measures. You correct it while at the same time recognising that the criminals are also human who do have basic needs themselves.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

Sleeping on a “road” is better sheltered than the homeless without a roof.Having a mattress is like asking for a storeroom for contraband,not for rehabilitative intention!There are religious classes to rehabilitate the soul,there are loneliness to rehabilitate the heart,there are books to rehabilitate the mind and there are physical games to rehabilitate the body.The dehumanising of the criminals begins upon their release when society stigmatise them for cheaper labor.When half way houses rehabilitate them in their program for just a meal for their manual work in the name of spiritual growth.When companies rejected their job application for their criminal record.When….

Comment by saysay

At the end of 20 days, the person who told me about her experience in prison was released with bruises, abrasions and eczema on her feet and ankles. Her skin also came off.

How often do you think that “religious classes” happen?

How often do you think that guards remember to let them take a walk in the yard?

How often do you think they are allowed to visit the prison library?

Also, in the MEDICAL ward, the beds are mere metal frames (I have heard about this from 2 different people). The sick deserve a mattress don’t you think? Now by not acknowledging the basic needs of human beings (at least), that is dehumanising. A dehumanising legal system + law enforcement is a reflection of what kind of society we have here. Only people with no compassion, no sense of what rehabilitation is, who pay no effort to research on how to make prison a better place to reform criminals will end up putting dehumanising ‘measures’ in place.

Comment by rachelabsinthe

[…] Ninth of August – Singapore Life & Times: Regardless of language – Rachel Zeng: Random scribblings on National Day – 少年子弟江湖老: 《47年的成長歲月,今天突然很愛國》 – SG Hard […]

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